Saturday, 21 July 2018

LADY GOD


LADY GOD
BY
BARRY VAN-ASTEN




Julia Bowyer gazed into the bedroom mirror and sighed; she was a sensitive woman of twenty-three years, mere shadows which touched her lightly and crossed her face with little trace or effect. She was wild and pale and extremely beautiful with a profusion of dark hair cascading about her perfect head, seeming to ripple around her in delicate torrents. Although not very tall her stature was magnified by the intensity of her demeanour and her physicality; her body was crafted from thousands of years of evolution and seduction and she carried it well; her breasts were the miraculous manifestations of motherhood, to which she yearned – the feminine essence which spoke of the Divine Virgin Mary and the heroic tragedy of Jean d’Arc. Yes, by design, she was exquisite and statuesque! But today, as she sat there by the mirror inwardly gazing at her self, in the stark reality of the outside world she seemed a thousand years old.
How like her mother she seemed from photographs she kept, she remembered her with a deep sense of love and loss; unfortunately Julia had lost her parents, one to cancer and the other to exquisite pastry baking.
Julia had been seeing a man named Steven for over a year, a man who held the promise of little passion yet she clung to him in her familiarity. Steven did not quite realise his undertaking when he met Julia, in fact, he had little understanding of women, a claim most men will admit to, and he had even less understanding of Julia as a person, as a spirit of nature or an entity free of sexuality and romantic entanglements which obstruct the perception of individuals – ‘God must have a sense of humour’ he would say, ‘why else would he create the fairer sex?’ to which Julia would answer: ‘Steven, even you must acknowledge that God created man and then realised the mistake and perfected the creation in the form of woman!’ Julia often got the better side of an argument and Steven would storm off, cursing under his breath or saying ‘Julia bloody Caesar!’ which he knew she didn’t like and even hoped tormented her, which of course being of the superior sex she rose above such tawdry irritations and episodes and forgave Steven his indiscretions, after all he was pre-disposed to such behaviour, being a man after all! Besides, she would always get her own back at parties when she never failed to trot out the well-worn example of man’s, particularly Steven’s, stupidity and would talk eloquently and at length upon his eagerness to eat food straight from the oven, such as pizza, and in his haste burn his mouth, and with the damage done and no lesson learnt in would be pushed another fiery mouthful into the tender hole and if lucky enough not to be spat out he would intake air like a floundering fish in order to try to cool the furnace on his tongue before another flaming mouthful is added to the inferno in his face!
Julia had longed to be a mother, to nurture some small bundle and see the magic of life unfolding before her. She had not experienced the great emotion, the eternal anguish and rage of loving someone so deeply that the insignificant workings of the heart should stop or one’s world be torn asunder without the object of one’s desire to caress and hunger after. Steven was a poor substitute for a lover yet Julia persisted in some vision of being blessed with a child and consumed by the powerful prayer she willed herself upon the business-end of man that gave delicate ripples of satisfaction in order to achieve her only dream. But to date she had been unsuccessful. She pleaded with God, she was no great believer yet she felt there must be something who listens to the cries of the helpless in their hours of need; some ‘great observer’ who watches over the revolving world and all its little tragedies that unfold – such a history of tragedy!
Often she would lay awake at night listening to the thoughts which softly issued from her mind; thoughts which carried doubts and looming indecisions; thoughts which to most would seem quite trifling but to Julia were unparalleled. The night was her companion, she loved the dead hours of the night which wrapped around her for she was soft and vulnerable and the darkness held great possibilities where inhibitions lay unexplored. She often imagined when she was lying upon her bed that the delicate nightdress she wore was her burial shroud which symbolised the power of Death over the Living; this bed, this sensual and perfumed parlour of her sex was her death-bed, all of this she thought in the ghostly hours between sleep until she would be disturbed by Steven moving or clumsily scratching himself in his sleep. This man, this lump of thoughtless, insensitive and ignorant, heavy-handed, stupidly un-aesthetic flesh with his simple ways of snoring through life often appalled her beyond words but then there were times when he was capable of small and almost loving gestures which took her by surprise; she stuck with him out of some measure of not wanting to be alone. Steven, when caught off-guard, which was the best time to catch him, would almost express a sense of emotion and say that he quite liked and even loved Julia but he was always in too much of a hurry through life and had little desire to live for the moment, a sort of blink and you’ll miss him kind of guy… ‘Dear God, bless me with life within!’
Julia knew that a day would come, a day of reckoning for she had, like most young girls, thoughts of an unkind nature towards those she loved the most, yet they were always removed, as if surgically cut from her and new and brighter thoughts transplanted in their place.
One day Julia woke up feeling decidedly different, she felt odd, not in a bad way but in a way she felt she could not describe for she felt as if something had been removed from her and something else had taken its place; this seemed to last for a few days until one morning she felt the world fall away from under her and she fainted upon the floor. Steven, in one of his rare moments of wisdom, persuaded her to go and see the Doctor just to make sure all is as it should be and so she made an appointment for the following day. The Doctor made all the general noises a Doctor usually makes having attained great satisfaction from an overblown salary and regret at the loss of leisure time due to an explosion of over-cautious patients; after taking first this test and then that one and giving a simple explanation of his findings as he is a busy man and saying casually as if it were items on a grocery list: ‘Boy or a Girl?’ Julia was first at a loss to understand what he meant and with some surprise she said ‘are you saying I’m pregnant?’
‘But of course! Congratulations!’ he exclaimed, and after giving her some informative leaflets and telling her to make an appointment with the nurse, she left the surgery, walking on air, her head a whirl of joy and confusion. ‘Sometimes’ she said to herself, ‘things should just evolve naturally, with no desire for change.’
The news was first greeted with a calm joy which nearly became a frenzy of painful smiles on Steven’s part and over the coming days became merely a sigh; Julia sensed the regret and dissatisfaction and Steven explained his fears that he was not ready for fatherhood and was only at the fag-end of childhood himself! The distance began to swell between them until a few weeks later Steven left Julia – it was the first decision he had really taken for himself and both agreed it was the right decision as any spark of love which may have been there was now decidedly dead and so they parted on speaking terms at least, but that final ‘Goodbye’ was awkward; Steven was never very good at ‘good-byes’; in fact, he was never very good at ‘hello’s’ either, he just sort of grunted either his appreciation or his dissatisfaction. And so Steven packed his things and returned to the parental nest where he could comfortably pupate until he reached adulthood!
Over the coming days Julia felt so alone and desperate and she harkened back to her childhood, thinking about her father whom she loved dearly for she was a true ‘daddy’s girl’ at heart and she remembered him saying to her in the garden ‘watch the stones, watch the stones’ and not really understanding what he meant. But now, after much contemplation and a shovelful of life behind her she realised that what he was saying was ‘don’t be in a rush to get to the end; enjoy the passage of time and the journey ahead!’ She was a special child as all young girls are, especially to their fathers and hers was no different. He had spent all her formative years dedicating himself with all the tender love and care a father can provide in nurturing the delicate blossom of his daughter; in strengthening the emotional and mental aspect of her nature and widening her experience and knowledge of the world while cautiously protecting his little rose. And then at the end of all that loving devotion, some errant weed creeps into the garden in the guise of man; a weed that takes vigorous hold of his delicate bloom and strangles it, undoing all the good that he has done and he is expected to hand over the fragile rose of his heart to this vile clot of a man who has taken over the reins of the young faun to lead astray at his whim – a father’s heart breaks but once at the loss of his daughter, but it breaks irrevocably!
Having life within her caused Julia to think about the concept of God or whatever it is that manifests within the soul. As a child she drew her own conclusion about God from what she heard and saw and in her mind God was male and benevolent and blessed the whole world with His love, but as she grew up and reached adolescence Julia began to see the world, the anger and the hatred and the catastrophes and  turned away from the picture-book image of God, the old man with a flowing white beard; it was just a fairy story, something the church had invented to keep the populace subdued and fearful of sinning – all that stuff about the angels and the devil… she would say what she really thought about all that but she was too polite! But now, since she felt the stirrings of new life within her she felt her mind dwelling on spiritual matters, not the Christian mumbo-jumbo but the real essence of the spirit, the pagan energy that flourishes through all life and even death, that great altar fire where burns the brightness of the whole universe; a brightness which compels us to love beyond measure! She had always been aware of the mystery of her sex, or perhaps it is more appropriate to say the misery of her sex, for she was continually ground-down by gratitude and resisted any temptation to persist in unworthy ventures with the opposite sex; within herself she saw a vision of God, a being of perfect strength and beauty, a feminine beauty which was reflected in her self and in all women. Man, if he must be categorised in some sense was akin to Lucifer, the fallen angel while woman rose above him and transcended his earthly gender; for it is the woman who carries the child within her once the unfortunate business of the male is over with, once he has attained his animal satisfaction and shut his eyes as easily as he shuts his mind and heart to things. It’s not that she hated men; she just thought they were extremely over-rated throughout history, casually denigrating women’s part in evolution and stepping over her ambitions – that is why wars have been so prolific from nation to nation since man first dominated woman! Why man furnishes the temple of his God with holy relics such as some Saint’s scrotum revered behind a glass screen or curled away in some old wooden chest. Such a vile and vulgar thing is that which protrudes from man – an extension of his forceful will; a corrupt intrusion of his dark heart: how could nature allow such a blasphemous betrayal? Perhaps the outward manifestation in man mirrors his progressive and destructive path through history while the woman’s inward void reflects her serenity; her inner journey of self-discovery? But all women’s dreams have been dashed against the rocks of gender equality, yet, a time will come…
Over time Julia forgot about Steven’s part played in the conception and even doubted if he were ever capable of such a thing in the first place, preferring to believe that the blessing of the child was given by Divine Intervention; the whole act was reformed in her mind to erase his wayward member and clumsy touches and in their place she invoked a celestial bright light which wrapped around her protectively and comforting; a light not bound by the restrictions of manhood but overwhelmingly subtle in its asexual beauty. This thought alone gave her the strength to continue on her new path of discovery, a path free from the intrusive weeds of man.
It was towards the end of October when Julia gave birth to a healthy young boy which she called Flame Hypsus Bowyer, she had not wished to satisfy convention by labelling the child with a gender-defining name as in masculine and feminine, but chose something from the world of nature and mythology. Her God-born vision had become a reality and she would pour love plentiful love upon the child. She had brought a concept into the world.
The silver threads of time wore wearily onwards and caressed the dark tresses of her hair with its magical streaks. The seasons seemed to merge and bluster through the intensity of motherhood, which did not as she assumed come naturally to her, it was more like a prelude to oblivion, a looming disaster of bandaged knees and cut fingers. ‘Dear God help me!’ she would say when it all got too much for her. All her life she was as some maiden in the Temple of Moonlight; a daughter of the House of Artemis, following her dream and her passion, but now all that had changed as she looked upon the needy and noisy bundle before her. ‘Dear God make it stop!’ She was unsure of herself and clung to the idea that things would get better. She attempted to reach out to her father and several times she had tried to batter down the defences he had built since her mother’s death and several times she failed. She was alone, truly alone!
What would he grow up to be, this thing, this animate creature torn from her all arms and legs and smells? She could hardly bring herself to look upon the boy for she felt its eyes rip into her soul, condemning her for being a bad mother, or so she thought, and wishing it had chosen a better host to hatch from; a mother the perpetual essence of goodness and overwhelming love – the resentment shone from him like beams of hate! She saw all this clearly and felt the anger of God for having such faith turned to disappointment that the blessing had become a burden to her. Time wore away at her soul and ate into her instincts to protect the child which had become something other than her own child and God knows she desperately wanted to love it but felt for all the world that a great mistake had occurred and that there was no way out; her life had ended before it had begun! ‘God help me!’
Steven, that useless lump who proclaimed to be the father but in Julia’s eyes was just an immature good-for-nothing waste of space, suddenly turned up on Julia’s doorstep, so to speak, well he knocked on the door to her bed-sit after failing to receive replies to letters he wrote to Julia throughout the pregnancy; it seemed there had been a change of heart and Steven was ready to take responsibility for the child and for Julia. He was here in the mask of humble man with an armful of emotions as yet unexplored – perhaps there was hope for him yet! With no answer to his knocking he spoke to the young student who had the room above and who seemed to be concerned that Julia had not been seen for a few days and that there had not been any sounds from the ‘nursery’, as Julia called one end of the kitchen. Steven spoke to the landlord who came round in some big flash car muttering about wasting his time when he had important things to do and tenants to pester for rent and so forth. He put the key into the lock and they slowly entered to find Julia and the child. Steven rushed towards them and the landlord fled the scene in panic, muttering all the swear words he knew in one sentence. Steven knelt beside the Mother and Child who looked like something ghastly yet godly from a biblical scene. Not yet a round of the planets – the child was just five sunsets old! And there, covered in the blood and tears of its mother who could only cradle the dead child; Julia like some awful Madonna held the infant with her eyes glazed in other worlds, repeating in some half-crazed whisper ‘watch the stones, watch the stones.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

DEAR DOLBEN

DEAR DOLBEN
DIGBY AUGUSTUS STEWART MACKWORTH DOLBEN
(8 February 1848-28 June 1867)
Digby Mackworth Dolben



'He was a boy who evidently needed both protection and sympathy,
and I could not have talked to him without discovering the
attraction of our similar inclinations and outlook on life,'

Robert Bridges. 'Memoir' from the 1911 book of poems.

Digby Mackworth Dolben was born in Guernsey on Saturday 8th February 1845, the youngest of three sons and a daughter to his father William Harcourt Isham Mackworth (1806-1872) and Frances Dolben who died in 1892; they were married on Wednesday 1st July 1835. The family lived at Finedon Hall in Northamptonshire.


Digby's stone cross in the extension churchyard
opposite Finedon Church


Young Digby was educated at a Cheam Private School run by Mr Tabor and then at Eton College from January 1862-July 1863 and it is at Eton where Digby's eccentricities began to show themselves, such as burning his hair with a candle when it got too long.

The memorial is quite overgrown
in comparison to the picture Dr.
David Shaw presents on his site
which was taken in July 2012


Digby became romantically attached to another boy at Eton a year older than himself named Martin Le Marchont Gosselin (1847-1905) and wrote love poems to him and it seems he fell in love with the youth. upon discovery of this Digby was asked to leave Eton which he did on 30th July 1863. Digby was considering converting to Roman Catholicism and took a mystical and even romantic view of the conversion, even taking to wearing a monk's habit and walking barefoot to the amusement of those around him.



On his seventeenth birthday on 8th February 1865, Digby went to Oxford to visit his cousin Robert Bridges (1844-1930) of Corpus Christi College who also had interests in poetry and would one day become Poet Laureate. On this momentous day, Digby was introduced to the scholar and poet G. M. Hopkins (1844-1889) of Balliol College and it was to prove an ominous day for Hopkins who upon seeing the young Dolben fell instantly and disastrously in love with the boy. Hopkins, besotted with Digby, corresponded until his letters went un-answered - Hopkins' famous 'dead letters'. They only ever met once yet the remarkable Dolben left such an impression on Hopkins that it was to become the most singular event of importance in his life. Hopkins wrote two poems dedicated to Dolben: 'The Beginning of the End' and 'Where art Thou Friend?':

Where art thou friend, whom I shall never see,
Conceiving whom I must conceive amiss?
Or sunder'd from my sight in the age that is
Or far-off promise of a time to be;
Thou who canst best accept the certainty
That thou hadst borne proportion in my bliss,
That likest in me either that or this, -
Oh! even for the weakness of the plea
That I have taken to plead with, - if the sound
Of God's dear pleadings have as yet not moved thee, -
And for those virtues I in thee have found,
Who say that had I known I had approved thee, -
For these, make all the virtues to abound, -
No, but for Christ who hath forsaken and loved thee.




Digby had fainted during the entrance examination for Balliol College, Oxford and was thus sent to prepare once more to go up to Oxford at the home of his tutor, the Reverend Constantine Estlin Prichard (1818-1869) who was the Rector of South Luffenham in Rutland. Prichard was a Balliol man and he and Dolben established a friendship. Digby went to Prichard on Saturday 15th June 1867 to prepare for the Oxford entrance examination in October (he had been at Prichard's two years previously for study).




Dolben drowned in the River Welland on Friday 28th June 1867, just two miles away from South Luffenham Rectory. He was bathing with Prichard's ten year old son named Walter* when the accident occurred.




'after he had read the speech of Ajax, he went, late in the afternoon to bathe with Mr. Prichard's son Walter at a spot where the stream widens into a small pool. The boy could not swim, but had learned to float on his back. Digby was a good swimmer. They had bathed there together before: the conditions were not dangerous, and no apprehension was felt when they did not return.' [Bridges. 'Memoir']

I had to remove the ivy which unfortunately
covered the whole of the base of the monument


Digby took the boy on his back and swam across the pool with him. Returning in the same fashion, he suddenly sank within a few yards of the bank to which he was swimming. The boy shouted to reapers in the meadows. The water was deep and the body of Dolben was not found for some hours. He was buried at Finedon on Saturday 6th July 1867.


A natural devotion as I touch
the stone where the young poet
Digby Mackworth Dolben rests



SISTER DEATH
by
Digby Mackworth Dolben



My sister Death! I pray thee come to me
Of thy sweet charity,
And be my nurse but for a little while;
I will indeed lie still,
And not detain thee long, when once is spread,
Beneath the yew, my bed:
I will not ask for lilies or for roses;
But when the evening closes,
Just take from any brook a single knot
Of pale Forget-me-not,
And lay them in my hand, until I wake,
For his dear sake;
(For should he ever pass and by me stand,
He yet might understand—)
Then heal the passion and the fever
With one cool kiss, for ever.



*Walter Henry Prichard born 1856 in Uppingham, Rutlandshire; baptised on 23rd November 1856 at South Luffenham, Rutland. He died on 1st May 1913 aged 56 in Grantham, Lincolnshire. His father, Constantine Estlin Prichard was born in 1820 and Christened on 8th August 1820 at Bristol, St Michael the Archangel on the Mount, Gloucestershire. He married mary Alice Seymour on 20th July 1854 at Westcott in Surrey and died in Christchurch, Hampshire in 1869.


see 'The Poems of Digby Mackworth Dolben edited with a Memoir by Robert Bridges' (1911) and the site of Dr. Tony Shaw for more images of the tombstone: http://tonyshaw3.blogspot.com/2012/07/digby-mackworth-dolben-in-finedon.html


Saturday, 19 May 2018

RAOUL LOVEDAY: THE CEFALU POET


 


ADONIS

THE CEFALU POET
By
Barry Van-Asten

 
'Tis magick, magick, that has ravished me.*

 
 
 
Raoul Loveday

 

 

 


 



‘Loveday, when he was a scholar of St John’s College, Oxford, was a stocky, untidy, carelessly dressed young man. Beneath his short hair, which was cut en brosse, he had a merry rather than a good-looking face, with bright blue eyes of incredible innocence.
He was a good soccer player and a spectacular climber. After the college gates were closed at midnight, he regularly climbed in and out. His feat of climbing the Martyrs’ Memorial and cementing an enamel chamber-pot to the top won him a romantic fame throughout the university.’

[The Magic of my Youth. The Adonis of Cefalu. Arthur Calder-Marshall. 1950. p. 110.]
 



Frederick Charles Loveday was born in Rangoon on 3rd July 1900 and he was christened sixteen days later. He was one of three children [Frederick had two sisters named Nellie and May] to George Loveday (born 1859) a Royal Navy Petty Officer and Amelia Ann Lewendon (born 21st January 1859) in Newington, Surrey. George and Ann were married on 1st October 1882 at St Saviour’s Church, Denmark Park, Middlesex.
As a child in Rangoon, young ‘Raoul’ caught malaria and when the family moved to England; they lived at 112 Barry Road, East Dulwich, South London.
On 2nd August 1918 eighteen year old ‘Raoul’ enlisted in the Officers Training Corps at London’s Inns of Court, a volunteer battalion and part of London’s Territorial Force in Berkhamsted, Berkshire, from September 1914-June 1919.
Following this he became an undergraduate of St John’s College, Oxford where he studied History and enjoyed writing poetry and playing football. It was here that his interest in the occult began. He was also a member of the Hypocrites Club, a philosophical discussion group at Oxford University and Raoul became the club’s secretary. The club was founded in 1921 and they met at rooms in a house in St Aldates; the club was closed in May 1925. On one occasion while Raoul was out of college after hours he tried to climb back in but slipped and impaled his thigh on an iron gate railing. He left Oxford in 1922, graduating with a 1st Class Degree in History.
In Oxford Raoul was living at 2 London Place, St Clemente and in 1922 he married Betty May; they had met at Soho's 'Harlequin Club' some weeks previous to their marriage.
 
Betty May

Betty May was born Betty Marlow Golding in 1895 in London’s Limehouse and she was the daughter of George Golding and Emily Finney. Betty became an artist’s model and she had been living in Paris and was frequently using drugs, mostly cocaine. Her first husband, Miles L Atkinson (they married at St Marylebone, London in the summer of 1914) was a drug addict and after he died Betty married George D K Waldron at St Martin’s in London during the autumn of 1916. George divorced Betty because of her drug use.
Betty and Raoul were married at the Registry Office in Oxford in September 1922 and a photo of the couple was taken in St John’s College gardens. In October 1922 the young couple were living in Fitzroy Street.
At Oxford, Raoul had been studying The Equinox from 1920 until he graduated in 1922, the same year that Raoul met Betty Bickers, the wife of Sheridan Bickers who contributed to The Equinox. It was through Bickers that Roaul met Aleister Crowley as he was staying with Bickers at her home 31 Wellington Square, London. Raoul called on Crowley alone and did not return home to Beak Street, Soho and to his wife Betty, in fact he spent three days with Crowley, taking ether. Betty had already met Crowley in 1914 at the Cafe Royal and was decidedly unimpressed with the magician. It wasn’t long after the great meeting of Raoul and Crowley that the younger man lost all ambition in having an academic career and his mind became obsessed with Crowley and the study of magick. Seeing the huge potential Raoul had for magick, Crowley invited him (and Betty) to the Abbey of Thelema in Cefalu.
In mid October 1922 Crowley departed for Cefalu, stopping off in Rome where he wrote to Raoul: 'I hope you will come p.d.q. and bring Betty. I honestly tell you that the best hope for your married life is to get out of the sordid atmosphere of 'Bohemian London...' By 4th November Crowley was at his Abbey.
A magician named Robinson Smith, a retired concert agent whom Crowley met at Austin Harrison's house at Seaford, paid the Loveday's fare to Cefalu. After Raoul and Betty visited Nina Hamnett (1890-1956) in Paris, they travelled to the Abbey, arriving on Sunday 26th November 1922. The next day, Monday 27th November, Crowley assisted Raoul and Betty as they climbed the Great Rock of Cefalu. 
For the next few weeks Raoul studied his magical work performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual daily and some visionary work which he showed great progress in. At the Abbey, Raoul acted as the High Priest during ritual work.
Raoul became a Probationer of Crowley’s Magical Order the AAand he took the magical name Frater Aud (Magic Light) at the winter Solstice [Friday 22nd December]. Betty didn’t enjoy life at the Abbey, finding it dirty and she could not get on with Crowley or Ninette Shumway.
 

Crowley and Leah with the children at the Abbey
 
 
One day, Betty and Raoul went for a long walk to visit a nearby monastery and after Crowley told them not to drink the water but Raoul with great thirst drank from a spring. During the beginning of February, Raoul was struck by malaria and was very weak. 'On Saturday morning, 10th February, the Virgin Guardian of the Sangraal [the Scarlet Woman, Leah Hirsig] returned from shopping in the town and found Crowley, Betty, Ninette, Jane, and Raoul assembled in the courtyard. A violent quarrel between Betty and Ninette was in progress. Crowley took Betty's side. Jane listened in silence. Raoul was too ill to say anything. Finally, the row, which had risen out of Betty's calling Ninette a slut, simmered down, and everyone fell in with the Beast's call for greater discipline in the Abbey.' [The Great Beast. John Symonds]

The next day, the evening of Sunday 11th February, Betty left the Abbey and asked Raoul to send her passport the following day. Crowley had found her reading a newspaper which was strictly forbidden at the Abbey. Betty went to Palermo. Raoul wrote a letter to Betty to persuade her to return:
 
 
 'My most dear Betty,
 
 

Let us try to get all this silly business finished. We managed to get on well enough till a few days ago. If you will come back to the Abbey and get yourself under control, and do as I tell you, you will find that things will be all right. Certainly no one wants you to stay away. I won't go to the hospital because the nuns there are mere ornaments and in any case I am not in a fit state to be moved. Moreover, I don't want to go - and I won't. Write me a note saying if you will come back. If you won't you had better send for your bag. There is no one here to take it. But be a good girl and come.
 
Always yours,
 
Raoul.'
 
[The Great Beast. John Symonds]

Also on the same day, Sunday 11th February, Raoul wrote a letter to his parents  which Betty posted for him, the letter explained that he had been suffering from malaria for 'about ten days now and it has left me as weak as water. As you see I have had to get Betty to write this letter for me. The doctor here is giving me various things but I do not seem to be making much headway. I trust, however, that by the time you get this letter I shall be quite well. Betty, herself has been unable to keep anything in her stomach for the last week but I think she is just on the turn now. I believe that the air or the water or something here, perhaps the place, does not agree with me.'
 
Jane [Wolfe] called on Betty at the Hotel in Cefalu the next day, Monday 12th February, and a little later at 11 a.m. Leah Hirsig turned up with Raoul's letter and so Betty returned to the Abbey that day  sometime after noon to be with her husband, Raoul.

Jane Wolfe and Leah Hirsig at the Abbey

 
On Tuesday 13th February Crowley recorded in his diary that he felt 'a current of Magical Force - heavy, black and silent - threatening the Abbey.' [The Great Beast. John Symonds] But the next day [Wednesday] Raoul became much worse and Dr Maggio was called for and he diagnosed acute enteritis. Crowley sent a telegram to Raoul's parents explaining his condition. Raoul Loveday, ‘Frater Aud’ died of enteritis on Friday 16th February 1923 at 4 p.m. at the Abbey of Thelema. He was swiftly placed into a coffin, about an hour after his death and that night the coffin was placed in an outhouse while Crowley kept vigil over it all night, uttering prayers for the young Thelemite. He was buried the next day [Saturday 17th February] outside the Catholic cemetery in non consecrated ground. Crowley led the proceedings for Raoul’s ‘Greater Feast’ with Betty, Jane [Wolfe], Ninette [Shumway], Leah and Leah's son Howard in attendance. Raoul was the first Thelemite to die in the Aeon of Horus. His parents later had his body exhumed and brought back to England for re-burial.  Following the funeral, Crowley retired to his bed where he remained for a month suffering sickness and fever.

The hearse which took Raoul to the cemetery.
Inset: Kenneth Anger at the Abbey in 1955
 
 
 
The hearse once more! Picture Post. 1955
 


Betty May left Cefalu on Tuesday 20th February and returned to England. Her fare was paid by the British Consul at Palermo.
On Friday 23rd February Crowley writes a letter to his friend and follower, Frank Bennett - Frater Progradior, saying that he has 'been quite seriously ill for 6 weeks or more, only on one or two days able to leave my bed. My principle assistant here, Frater AUD, a boy of 22, the most brilliantly promising magician I ever even dreamt of, came here on Nov. 26 and died last Friday. It is an absolute knock-down blow. I had built the greatest hopes on him as a helper. He had just come down from Oxford with First Class honours in History, he understood the Law, the principles of Magick and Yoga almost, as it were, by instinct.'
On Sunday 22nd April 1923 following the arrival of Norman Mudd that day came two Oxford undergraduates named John Pinney, of Christ Church and Claud Bosanquet of New College. They came to investigate the Abbey following the death of their friend and fellow student Raoul Loveday, whom they believed may have died under suspicious circumstances. They stayed for three nights and had a delightful time climbing with Crowley and found no truth in the claims of wickedness at the Abbey. On Wednesday 25th February 1925 the front page of the Sunday Express had the headline: 'New Sinister Revelations of Aleister Crowley' and Betty May was laying the blame for Raoul's death at Crowley's door!
In 1929 Betty May published her autobiography ‘Tiger-Woman: My Story’. Sometime in the nineteen-thirties Betty married again and was Betty May Sedgwick living in Hampstead and in the nineteen-fifties there was a fifth and final marriage to a gentleman named Bailey.
 

 




 




Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law
Love is the law, love under will
 

 








Having read so much about the poet and disciple of Aleister Crowley, Raoul Loveday (1900-1923) and found much of it inaccurate or incomplete I decided to research the Loveday family and to create an embryonic tree perhaps for future research and reference. The first port of call was to the census!
 
In the 1911 census the Loveday family are living in Camberwell, East Dulwich. The head of the household is George Loveday, aged 50, born 1859 in Lambeth, London, a ‘Naval Pensioner’. His wife, Amelia Loveday nee Lewendon, is also 50 years old, born 1859 in Newington, London (although she is entered as ‘Southwark’ on the census). Daughters Nellie, aged 15, born 1895 in ‘Portsmouth’, ‘an apprentice’, and May, aged 14, born 1896 in ‘Portsmouth’ and is a ‘pupil attending school’. Then we find young Frederick Charles Loveday, aged 10, born in Rangoon, Burma, also a ‘pupil attending school’. The Lovedays have two boarders staying with them: Alice Hardy aged 40, a widow born in Mogi Japan listed as a ‘visitor’, and Cecil H Hardy aged 17, born in Ivybridge, Devonshire, who is a ‘boy clerk’.
 
 
 
We can assume that the Lovedays were not in England for the 1901 census and so we turn to the Lewendon family:
 
 
 
 
In the 1861 census we find the family living at Forty Acres, Kingston, Surrey. Charles Lewendon, the head of the household is 33 years old, born 1828 at Whitechurch, Oxfordshire and he is a bricklayer by profession. His wife Sarah is 30 years old, born in 1831 in Kingston, Surrey. They have three daughters: Elizabeth aged 9, born in 1852 in Kingston, Surrey and she is a ‘scholar’; Emma aged 7 born in 1854 in ‘London’ and Amelia aged 4, born in 1857 in ‘London’.
In the 1871 census they are still living in Kingston, Surrey, Charles is 37, still a bricklayer and he is born in ‘Hill Bolton, Oxfordshire’ – the census is not reliable for accuracy of birth details! His wife Sarah is 37, Amelia Ann is a scholar born 1859, and there is also Rose Lewendon, 10 years old, Alice aged 6, Charles aged 3 and Alfred aged 1, all born in Kingston, Surrey.
Ten years later in the 1881 census the family have moved to Ulverscroft Road in Camberwell, London. Charles, the head of the family is 46 and a bricklayer, his wife Sarah is also 46 and a laundress; the children all born in Kingston, Surrey, are: Elizabeth aged 26 born in 1855 is a ‘Cook (domestic)’, Amelia is 21and a ‘Barmaid (Inn Servant)’, Alice is 16 and a ‘Nursemaid (domestic)’, Charles is 13, Alfred is 11, George is 8 and Clara is 4. Also living at the address is Charles Lewendon’s father (Amelia’s Grandfather and Raoul’s Great Grandfather) George Lewendon, a widower aged 60, born in 1821 in Oxford and a bricklayer by profession.
 
 


A SONG OF TOWN

 
 
Sing now of London
At fall of dusk;
A summer dragonfly
Crept from the husk.
Dragonfly, on whose wing
Run golden wires;
So, down a street pavement,
Lamps throw their fires.
Dragonfly, whose wing is pricked
By many a spark;
Electric eyes of taxis
Bright through the dark.
Dragonfly, whose life is
Cold and brief as dew,
Drone now for London dusk,
Soon dead too.
 
[Raoul Loveday. St John’s. Oxford Poetry. 1922. P. 26.]
 
 
 
 

THE MARRIAGE OF RAOUL AND BETTY
 
The signatures of Raoul and Betty
on their marriage certificate
 
 
Raoul and Betty were married at the Oxford Registry Office on Sunday 3rd September 1922. Raoul, or Frederick Charles to give his birth name, is 22 years old and he gives his profession as ‘author’; he is living at 50 Walton Crescent, Oxford and his father, George Loveday is described as a ‘civil servant’. Betty May Golding is 25 years old and living at the Golden Cross Hotel, Cornmarket Street, Oxford; her father George Golding (deceased) is stated as an ‘artist’ under father’s profession.
Raoul requested special leave from Oxford University for the weekend which was granted and Betty May says of the momentous day in her autobiography ‘Tiger Woman’ published in 1929:
‘We were married, in Oxford, shortly before the end of the summer term. Once again I stood in front of the registrar (1) – this time, however, in my own shoes. Raoul, less experienced than I, was extremely nervous, and at the crisis of the ceremony dropped the ring, which rolled into a corner of the room. One of the witnesses crawled after it and stood dusting his trousers for the rest of the time. (2) Raoul’s hand trembled as he slipped the ring onto my finger at the second attempt. I left the office feeling slightly uneasy. Had the dropping of the ring anything to do with the Princess Amen Ra? (3) I knew it was an evil omen. Was my marriage again going to be a failure?
On the day of our marriage [Sunday 3rd September 1922] a thing happened which although even at the time it filled me with a certain foreboding, I never imagined would return to me in such circumstances of horror. We were walking through the gardens of St. John’s and someone suggested taking a photograph of us both. We stood beneath one of the trees there and he took a snap. When this photograph was printed there was the ghostly form of a slim young man lying just over my husband’s head. It was as though the form was asleep or dead, and the arms were raised slightly behind the head, while the head drooped gently to one side. At the time I remember we were amused by this “spook” photograph, but I felt an indescribable feeling of anxiety, even though I laughed at it. Later on in my story you will learn how my fears were justified and how amazing a warning this was of what was to come.
That evening a party of us went to one of the dance halls forbidden to undergraduates. It was rather a sordid place, with a bad floor and a worse band, whose chief allurement must have been the fact that it was forbidden. Rather drunken undergraduates were dancing with cheap-scented girls of the town. Some of them greeted Raoul noisily. However, he was not in the slightest degree embarrassed, and treated them with his usual easy insolence of manner.
We stayed there a bit. It was not very amusing, but there did not seem to be anything else to do in Oxford at this time of night. I was dancing with Raoul, I remember, when at about eleven o’clock the alarm went round that the proctors were coming. There was a rush for the door, and I was left alone. Two undergraduates only had not fled, and they were hiding under a seat in the ladies’ cloak-room, protected by the skirts of their partners. The proctors, well up to the trick, and untroubled by modesty, searched that apartment as a matter of course. It was an exciting moment. They were just going when one of the idiotic girls laughed, and the proctors returned and dragged the fugitives ignominiously by the ankles from their concealment.
At last the proctors went away and some of our party returned, but Raoul was not among them.
I was very sick with myself for having suggested coming to the dance. Raoul, with whom I was quite unjustly angry for leaving me, had been against it, because, having got leave to go away for the week-end so as to be able to stay with me on our wedding night, it would have been fatal for him to be discovered in Oxford.
By now the place was closing down. What was I to do? Would Raoul come back for me, or would he expect me to follow him? I was undecided until my hesitation was overcome for me by a certain famous boxer, who had been with us, and now offered to take me back to the hotel where Raoul and I were staying.’
Betty goes on to say that she was about to ring the night bell at the hotel but she decided to go for a walk to the Trout Inn to look at the water meadows and the Thames by moonlight, (4) and also to punish Raoul for abandoning her at the dance hall. She stood leaning over the bridge by the Trout Inn; (5) after a while she crosses the bridge and walked along the river, singing songs in her head. The river bank was sloping and slippery and she fell head-first into the river. Luckily it was quite shallow. Betty returned to the hotel covered in mud: ‘For a moment Raoul could not recognise the miry apparition that met his eyes. Water dripped from me as I stood there. He asked me what on earth had happened and how I had managed to get like this. Had someone thrown me into the river?
“I thought I’d go for a walk,” I explained, “and I fell into the river.”
“Good God,” he asked, “is this what I’ve got to get used to?”
I was not going to be reprimanded at this early stage of our relationship, so I said, “And why did you leave me at the dance hall to find my way home alone?”
“The proctors – “
“I suppose you care more about the proctors than about me.”
But it was not really a very serious sort of quarrel!’
 
The next day, Monday 4th September, Raoul had invited a friend of his to dinner and to meet his new wife, Betty; the un-named friend, (6) a well-known psychic and clairvoyant, in Betty’s autobiography was tall and gaunt and she took an instant dislike to him although he was an entertaining speaker and he and Raoul talked about poetry; Raoul was making a stand for the poets Ernest Dowson (1867-1900) and Lionel Johnson (1867-1902) whom his friend said were ‘sentimental and decadent’. Raoul defensively said that he hated the Georgian poets and declared himself a romantic and when asked which living poets he admires, mentioned the name of some professor and a poet of the occult whom Betty had met in 1914 at the CafĂ© Royal – Aleister Crowley.
“What’s he doing now?” the other asked.
“Haven’t you heard?”
“No.”
“He’s started an Abbey in Sicily.”
Then the curious young fellow suggested he knew what Betty was in a previous incarnation. In comparing their notes on the subject Raoul and his friend had reached the same conclusion, that she was a witch-doctor and Raoul was the chieftain of the village who loved her but she refused to yield her love to him; the chieftain, deciding to kill the witch-doctor set her adrift in a boat which capsized in a storm and she drowned.
Betty and Raoul stayed in Oxford for a few days after the Oxford University Commemoration Ball and then went to London, taking a room at the Harlequin Club at 55 Beak Street, off Regent Street, where she had first met Raoul. They were poor and Raoul had accumulated large debts with tailors and booksellers in Oxford. Betty took to being an artist’s model again; earning a pound a day to keep them both while Raoul studied Egyptology at the British Museum or at various libraries.
While dining at the Harlequin, Betty’s friend Betty Bickers came over, Bickers was interested in the occult and when Crowley came up in conversation Raoul said he would like to meet him and Bickers informed him that Crowley was staying at her house. (7) Raoul became infatuated with magick and Crowley and did not return home for two days and nights. ‘On the night of the third day I was awakened by the sound of someone trying to open my bedroom window. It was Raoul. We were on the third floor in one of those tall houses in Beak Street, just off Regent Street, and he had climbed from the street. He was covered with dust and soot, and his breath reeked of ether. I put him to bed, where he lay in a doped sleep until the middle of the following day.’
After the same thing happened again and Raoul was away for three days, Betty attempted to foil Crowley and they left the room in Beak Street and took another, (8) but after a while Crowley turned up at the door wearing his Highland kilt and holding a magical wand.
 
 Notes:
  1. The name of Registrar was J. H. B.Wright.
  2. The two witnesses on the marriage certificate are almost undecipherable but diligent examination seems to yield two names: Jean Pierre Dubont and Susan Billingham, so it would appear that Jean Pierre is the witness who crawls after the ring.
  3. Betty had mocked the mummified Princess by sticking her tongue out at her when Raoul took her to the British Museum. Raoul was shocked. ‘Without a word he rushed me out of the Museum, took me straight back to where I was staying and told me to wait for him there.“But where are you going?” I asked. “Back to the Museum,” he answered, still pale, “to pray that she may take her evil spell from you and place it on me.” [‘Tiger Woman’. The Mystic.]
  4. The moon was three days from full which occurred on Wednesday 6th September 1922.
  5.  The Trout is a 17th Century Inn by the River Thames at Lower Wolvercote, North Oxfordshire, near Godstow Bridge.
  6. Raoul had several friends from oxford such as Allan Porter, Arthur Read, and Bertram Higgins (1901-1974) born in Melbourne who read languages at Oxford; Betty’s friend ‘Dolores’ [Norine Fournier Lattimore (1894-1934)] was an artist’s model at the Harlequin Club and often joined them at social gatherings.
  7. This was at 31 Wellington Square, London, where Crowley was staying with Betty Sheridan-Bickers and teaching her magick and giving lectures on Thelema.
  8. This would have been in October 1922 and it was probably a furnished room in Fitzroy Street. Crowley says in his ‘Confessions’: ‘He and Betty lived in one filthy room in Fitzroy Street, a foul, frowsty, verminous den, stinking of the miasma of that great class who scrape through the years by dint of furtive cunning in dubious avocations. They were living from hand to mouth, with disaster eternally looming ahead, and the whisper of hope more faint and feeble as each effort ended in failure.’ [The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Chapter 94.]


 
 
 
*from an essay by Raoul Loveday entitled 'Ravishment' quoting Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.